Continuous Trafficking of Persons

To understand the offense of “continuous trafficking of persons,” one must first understand the offense of “trafficking of persons.” Trafficking of persons occurs when one person forces another person to perform either labor or services for another.

Human trafficking includes forcing another into prostitution; promoting prostitution; or using threat, force, or fraud to compel another to commit acts of prostitution. If the person is a minor, the list of sexual offenses covered by trafficking of persons expands to include sexual abuse, sexual indecency, sexual assault, sexual performances by a child, and child pornography.

Human trafficking, however, is not limited to sexual acts.  A person is guilty of human trafficking when forcing another to perform other labor or services as well. This commonly includes labor and services such as housekeeping, child care, and gardening. Any labor or service, however, can be covered by this statute. The trafficking of persons statute not only punishes the person forcing the labor or services. It also punishes those who benefit from the human trafficking, such as receiving the labor or the services. Human trafficking is a second-degree felony.

Punishment for Continuous Trafficking of Persons

Continuous trafficking of persons is a statute designed to punish people who engage in human trafficking on more than one occasion over time. Under the statute, a person commits continuous trafficking of persons where, over the course of 30 days or more, a person either forces another to perform labor or services, or benefits from another performing labor or services, on two or more occasions.

Continuous trafficking of persons is a felony in the first degree. This offense is punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and life or up to 99 years in prison. Felonies in the first degree have a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

Penal Code Section 20A.03

CONTINUOUS TRAFFICKING OF PERSONS

(a)  A person commits an offense if, during a period that is 30 or more days in duration, the person engages two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20A.02.

(b)  If a jury is the trier of fact, members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on which specific conduct engaged in by the defendant constituted an offense under  Section 20A.02 or on which exact date the defendant engaged in that conduct.  The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant, during a period that is 30 or more days in duration, engaged in conduct that constituted an offense under Section 20A.02.

(c)  If the victim of an offense under Subsection (a) is the same victim as a victim of an offense under Section 20A.02, a defendant may not be convicted of the offense under Section 20A.02 in the same criminal action as the offense under Subsection (a), unless the offense under Section 20A.02:

(1)  is charged in the alternative;

(2)  occurred outside the period in which the offense alleged under Subsection (a) was committed; or

(3)  is considered by the trier of fact to be a lesser included offense of the offense alleged under Subsection (a).

(d)  A defendant may not be charged with more than one count under Subsection (a) if all of the conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20A.02 is alleged to have been committed against the same victim.

(e)  An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 25 years.

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